Botswana once again reaffirms her commitment to contributing to one of the most indispensable causes of human life – the attainment of justice for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Our determination to honour our obligations under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is strong. In this regard a bill domesticating the Rome Statute of the ICC has been tabled before Parliament. It has gone through the First Reading and is now on the agenda for the November 2016 session.
The creation of the ICC marked a milestone in the enhancement of International Criminal Jurisprudence and strengthening of the international rule of law. We want it to work effectively. The domestication of the Rome Statue of the ICC will contribute in no small measure to the realization of this shared objective.
In October last year, Botswana had the honour to host the Regional High Level Seminar on Fostering Cooperation with the Court. The objective of this seminar was to stimulate discussions and improve mutual understanding on cooperation between the Court and States Parties on matters of national capacity building, witness protection and international cooperation.
The Seminar provided States Parties in the Region with an opportunity to share best practices, experiences and knowledge from our different jurisdictions on the implementation of the Rome Statute.
The quest for justice is a collective calling for all. We must join hands in this frontier for justice and give hope to the millions of the voiceless women, men and children who look up to us. Victims of crimes against humanity and genocide, including in situations where the State is the perpetrator, have as much a right to justice as any other person.
Botswana's commitment to the core principles of the ICC is to cooperate with the international community, to enable the Court to function effectively and sustainably, as it seeks to bring lasting peace to the world. The President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Lt. General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama underscored this conviction at the opening of the Plenary of the 10th Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
We strongly believe that even in the face of challenges, the ICC is the only hope for the countless victims crying out for justice. Justice is indivisible. We must tirelessly work to ensure that all victims of the most serious crimes have access to justice.
With its increased judicial workload and currently exercising jurisdiction over 10 situations and 10 ongoing preliminary investigations, the ICC clearly needs the support and cooperation of the international community if it is to build on the new development agenda. We therefore welcome and support efforts by the President of the Court to carry out reforms within the institution in order to enhance its efficient financial operations.
Mr. President, Botswana has always maintained that the ICC like any other organization is not perfect. The Rome Statute is a human project. It will continue to evolve, grow, gain experience, respond to new challenges and hopefully live up to the expectations of many across the world. It exists to serve humanity and that is why we must endeavour to make it universal.
We are alive to the strong winds of discontent and discomfort especially from our own continent, that the ICC appears to be targeting African leaders and Africans. There are proposals from some of our sister States Parties for the ASP to urgently consider certain provisions of the organization's rules and procedures and to address their concerns.
We believe that where there are legitimate concerns and expectations, it is the responsibility of this Assembly, and no one else, to engage in dialogue, within a spirit of mutual respect and due consideration, to iron out differences. Conscious of the need to maintain the integrity, fairness and democratic nature of multilateralism, Botswana stands ready to engage and reach out to fellow States Parties to find lasting solutions to the challenges faced by this body.
It is commendable that the African continent continues to help shape the new world order through active engagement and complementarity efforts to call for accountability of those who perpetrate injustice.
In this respect, we salute the African Union Extra Ordinary Chamber for pioneering the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction through its recent trial of former Chadian leader, Hissene Habre. We congratulate you President Kaba, the Government and the people of Senegal, for the exemplary leadership, courage and determination to close the impunity gap.
I wish at this very moment to recognize and convey my word of appreciation to citizens of the world as represented by members of civil society who continue to contribute to shape, promote and sustain the ICC.
It is these ordinary individuals – irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, colour or creed who nurture the promise of a strong International Criminal Court. Without them, without their unwavering support and without their outreach in every corner of the globe, we would not be complete in the pursuit of what we stand for.
As we mark 15 years since the Rome Statute was enacted, the ICC continues to face trials and triumphs in its quest for sustainable peace, justice and a world free from impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern. In this respect, we welcome the report of the President of the Court, H.E. Ms. Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, on the activities of the court for the period from 1 August 2015 to 31 July 2016.
With the continuing mass atrocities taking place across the world, we are deeply concerned by the deteriorating humanitarian and political situations in Yemen, Syria, The West Bank and in some parts of Africa. Eighteen years ago, nations of the world, reeling from the wounds of the bitter and brutal past, tired of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity decided to come together and establish the International Criminal Court.
With complementarity to national jurisdictions as its hallmark, the ICC resolved to put an end to impunity for all perpetrators of such crimes irrespective of status, power, influence or rank in society. And while the world is still replete with mass atrocities and grave crimes that continue to shake the conscience of humanity, nations, big and small, can still draw inspiration and solace from knowing that never, never and never again shall the world be ruled by tyrants, dictators and criminals alike.
Mr. President, progress should be made regarding the Crime of Aggression. The struggle against impunity in all its forms and manifestations must continue. Having the requisite threshold of more than 30 ratifications, we look forward to seeing the activation of the ICC's jurisdiction over the Crime of Aggression next year.
In this respect, we commend all those States Parties who, following the 2010 Kampala Amendments, finalized their internal processes to ratify the Amendments on this very serious crime. We ratified these amendments as Botswana believes that in order to honour the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the international community must give practical meaning to its abhorrence of the illegal use of force, by enacting the Crime of Aggression as a matter of urgency.
The activation of the ICC's jurisdiction over the crime of aggression is a milestone in the international community's resolve to frown upon those crimes that offend humankind, human dignity and human rights. We remain confident that more and more States Parties will continue to enrich the Rome Statute by ratifying the Kampala Amendments. We wish to assure this Assembly that we remain a staunch member of the Rome Statute and pledge our unwavering support to, and cooperation with the ICC.
As always, the Botswana delegation looks forward to the rich and constructive debates that characterise our Annual Assembly, and I thank you for your attention.
STATEMENT BY DR. ATHALIAH MOLOKOMME ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA AT THE 15TH SESSION OF THE ASSEMBLY OF STATES PARTIES TO THE ROME STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS, 16TH NOVEMBER 2016
The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.
It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.
Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years
Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.
Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.
Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.
The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?
Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.
How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court. It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.
Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.
Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.
Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.
There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards. The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.
Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.
So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics. The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.
He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.
Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.
The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.
The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.
Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.
It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.
Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.
The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.
The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.